CMS Releases 2013 Physician Utilization and Spending Data to Public
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On June 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released calendar year 2013 Medicare utilization and payment data for physicians in an effort to create greater transparency of the medical services they provide.  The data files include information on 950,000 physicians and other healthcare providers that allow for comparisons by specialty, as well as the types and volume of services provided.  The data also contain information on provider location, which allows for geographic comparisons.  An important shortcoming of the data is that it tells nothing about the quality of care provided.

National, state and local media outlets have taken interest in the data, highlighting so-called “Medicare Millionaires,” as well as physicians who have supplemented income with office-based tests and procedures. Private payers are also certain to take stock in the data when establishing provider networks.  Data files can be accessed through the CMS website. Physicians can also use the interactive Medicare Physician and Other Supplier Lookup Tool to easily access their information.

CMS added a few new features with 2013 data release, including flagging HCPCS for drugs and better HCPCS descriptions. The 2012 data were re-published to reflect all updates.  The availability of the 2013 data represents the second annual release of physician utilization and spending information.  A fact sheet on the data release is available from CMS.

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